This article first appeared on VeloNews.com.
Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) won stage 1 of the Simac Ladies Tour with a reduced peloton after more than 60 km in a solid breakaway of 21 riders.
Wiebes sprinted to victory by a clear margin, beating Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma) and Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) to second and third place.
A crash in the peloton saw the peloton split about 80km from the start of the stage, after which a group of 21 riders established themselves in the lead. With most of the big teams represented, the group worked well and held their lead to the line
A lead from Charlotte Kool and Franziska Koch gave Wiebes their 18th victory of the season, and their first as European champions.
How did it happen
The opening stage of the Simac Ladies Tour 2022 started and ended in Lelystad, doing one and a half laps of an 83km circuit before returning to the center of the city for the finale. Located in the pan-flat region of Flevoland, Stage 1 was as flat as a stage could get – Lelystad sits 3m below sea level – and looked nailed down for a sprint. However, the risk of Dutch winds posed a possible challenge.
The first 20km was uneventful with no breakaways as the DSM team led the pack, already taking control in support of Wiebes, but the action soon began. After 25km, the crosswinds made themselves known for the first time and split the peloton, allowing a group of 28 riders to clear the lead of the race, 15 seconds ahead of the following group.
After a tough chase, the second group regained the lead to form a larger group, but several riders were still left behind as the race headed towards the 40km mark.
In the chaos of the wind, a fall saw Coryn Labecki (Jumbo-Visma) fall and abandon the race. The Simac Tour was the American’s return to racing after a two-month absence and would have been a key test ahead of the world championships in Wollongong next month.
With much of the peloton bunched up and the wind easing, the peloton calmed down slightly heading into the first bonus sprint of the race. Shortly after, Wiebes was involved in an accident which once again split the peloton, although Wiebes reached the lead group which contained 21 riders after 80km.
Caught on the wrong side of the gap, FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope continued in the second group, trying to close a 24-second gap with the front of the race.
Approaching the last 40 kilometers of the race, the advantage of the leading group had increased to one minute. With many well-represented teams, they worked well together and made it difficult for the chasing riders. Among the sprinters pictured in the lead were Lonneke Uneken (SD Worx), Alison Jackson (Liv Racing Xstra), Ruby Roseman-Gannon (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo), but their chances may have been overshadowed by the presence of Wiebes, who also had with her the main lead riders Charlotte Kool and Franziska Koch.
Despite a big push, their advantage narrowed somewhat in the last 30 kilometers of the stage and what was left of the peloton behind had the leaders in sight on the longer straights. After cooperating for so long, the leading group began to attack each other in the final 15 kilometers, with the Liv Racing Xstra quartet of Jackson, Smulders, Buurman and Korevaar taking turns to accelerate and forcing the DSM team to control the things.
With 11km to go, Hosking broke out of the leading group, which slowed the leaders’ efforts as Trek took on less responsibility on the front. This closed the gap again, but with 4km to go the leaders still held a healthy advantage and looked set to contest victory between themselves.
Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) launched an attack from the leading group 1.8km from the finish but could not escape. Going into the final kilometer, Kool again executed an effective lead for Wiebes, allowing the European champion to easily pass the peloton, winning by several bike lengths. Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo Visma) took second place, while Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo) just beat Jackson to take third place.
With bonus seconds on the line, Wiebes now leads the race two seconds ahead of Swinkels. In the end, 19 leaders finished 49 seconds ahead of the peloton, which means that the general classification is already starting to take shape after what was going to be a simple sprint stage.
Tomorrow’s stage which starts and ends in Ede is an equally flat day, with three laps of a 40km circuit with a small climb in the last 10km but a flat race to the finish.
Simac Ladies Tour (2.WWT)
Lelystad → Lelystad
GASPARRINI Eleonora Camilla